Our cross country ski season has been extraordinary this year. The weather has been cold and snowy enough since mid-january that we have been able to go every weekend and I have been out nine times so far this year, which must be a record for me! I am especially grateful for the blessing of snow during this pandemic winter when there is not much else to do. After getting nearly 50 miles in so far this winter, I am reminded that there is always some degree of stiffness the next day. And yoga is a great way to unwind some of that post-ski stiffness.
This series of poses emphasize stretching of the legs and torso and restoring mobility to the hips and spine. Although designed with XC skiing in mind, this would be a good sequence to do after downhill skiing or any repetitive exercise such as running, swimming or biking.
1. Mountain (Tadasana)
2. Mountain Pose with Arms Overhead Sidebend Right, then Left
3. Standing Straddle (Prasarita Padottanasana), down dog variation
4. Dynamic Straddle Squats - bend the knees, stretch the hips back while in
down dog straddle
5. Straddle Heart Openers - keep right hand on the ground, in line with the shoulder;
reach the left hand up to the sky
6. Triangle (Trikonasana) to the Right, then overhead reach variation
7. Runner’s Lunge
8. Up Dog or Cobra (Bhujangasana)
9. Garland (Mulasana) - release the neck and shoulders
10. Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
11. Reclined Hero (Supta Virasana)
12. Resting Pose (Savasana)
Numbers 1 -9 can be done standing, even outdoors on the snow. For poses 10-12 take plenty of time and have props available including blocks and blankets and a bolster if you have one. Reclined Hero is an asana that I think is particularly good for cross country skiers because it's a great way to stretch the quads, hip flexors and ankles all at once. It also helps to open the the chest and spine after hours of working hard to propel yourself forward. But be sure to give yourself enough support and proceed cautiously, if at all, if you've had a knee or back injury. Don't skip the hard-earned Savasana, our bodies need plenty of rest to recover from a day out in the cold and prepare for the next time. Looks like we should have at least a couple more weeks of skiing this season so get out there and enjoy it!